There are two kinds of timing in an engine: cam timing and the ignition timing. Cam timing is what determines when the valves are opened and closed with respect to the position of the pistons in their bores. It can however not be adjusted on a stock engine. It is set when the engine is manufactured, aligning them to manufacturer’s specs. Cam timing is not connected with or affected spinning the distributor.
What distributors time is spark or ignition. At idle, your engine is spinning relatively slowly, say 1000 revolutions per minute (rpm), so very little fuel and air are being taken into the cylinders. This small amount of combustible mixture burns very fast. For maximum efficiency, the spark needs to start when the piston is very near top dead center. If the spark comes too advanced, the pressure from the ignited mixture will hit the piston while it is yet coming up the cylinder and be wasted trying to shove the piston down before it reaches the top of its journey. If the timing is set too late, the pressure from the ignited mixture will dissipate as the flame front chases the piston down the cylinder bore. There is how you properly adjust your engine (ignition) timing.
Note: If you’re unfamiliar with the inner workings of your vehicle, especially the engine, you may want to stop doing this on your own.
1 – KNOWING THE PART YOU TOUCH
There are many things that can be checked and altered to help adjust your engine timing, but you need to know them specifically. These things include adjusting the distributor nut, the screw that is found at the back of the manifold (on the driver’s side), the throttle position sensor, the timing pointer located above the crankshaft pulley, and the number one spark plug wire.
2 – MAKE THE ENGINE WARM
Turn the car on. let the engine warm up until you see the temperature gauge reach about half way. Then, turn it off again.
3 – PULL OUT YOUR MANUFACTURER’S INFORMATION
Take out your manufacturer’s information for your car. Make sure that you thoroughly read through and understand your car’s components before you attempt to adjust the ignition timing for your engine.
4 – CHECK THE TDC
Rotating the distributor is one of the ways you can effectively adjust your engine timing and the method we would encourage.
To do this, first ensure you know how many cylinders are on your car. For example, if you have a six cylinder car, you will have six sparks. Then, examine the harmonic balancer. There are marks that indicate how far it is from TDC (top dead center). Adjusting the timing means ensuring the pistons fire appropriately to the TDC position (not too far before, not after, not too close).
5 – HOOK-UP TIMING LIGHT
To start, loosen the distributor by removing the bolt, and then hook up a timing light to the number one cylinder. With the strobe on, point it to the harmonic balancer and look for the mark that indicates 10 degrees BTDC.
6 – ROTATE
Rotate the distributor until it aligns with the 10-degree mark. Once aligned, tighten the distributor again. Double-check your timing before you fully tighten it in place.
If you’ve done everything rightly, your engine timing should now be spot on.